Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hayabusa shadow on Itokawa

The Hayabusa spacecraft did a practice run where it descended to within 70 meters of the surface of asteroid Itokawa. Here is a picture from the ISAS website. In this image, you can see a shadow of the spacecraft on the rubbly surface of the asteroid. You can see the opposition affect making a bright halo around the shadow too, much as you might see around the shadow of the airplane you are riding in if you sit in the right part of the plane.

Hayabusa has a little rover called Minerva which will land on the asteroid soon. The latest reports show that it was successfully released this afternoon. The next few days ought to be very interesting as this mission continues to unfold.


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